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"The Rookie"

Directed by John Lee Hancock.
Written by Mike Rich. 
Starring Dennis Quaid.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  4/4/02 


Yes, I agree that it is sad that the college basketball season is finally over...but luckily, there's baseball!

My friend Chinh "Bobby" Le took in "The Rookie" this past weekend, and suggested I check it out.  Why?  I love baseball more than any other sport, and as most of you know, I love the New York Yankees more than any other team.  So, along with movies based on video games, I will go to see almost any movie based on baseball.  The main difference between the two is basically that video game movies suck...but, baseball movies seem to always bring it home.

"The Rookie" is no exception.  This true story is based on the brief major league career of Jimmy Morris, a high school science teacher in Big Lake, Texas (population: nearly nobody) that happens to throw a 98 MPH fastball.  While I was already familiar with the story, the film delves more into Morris' pre-major league life, tracking his many moves due to an army brat lifestyle then skipping to his coaching career at Big Lake High School.  As a coach, he tries to turn a band of classic underachievers into a championship team...but, in return for their rejuvenated efforts, the team makes Morris promise to try out for a major league club if they can make the state playoffs.  And, the rest is history!

Dennis Quaid plays Morris and he reminds you why he once was thought to be a star with huge potential.  He handles both the baseball scenes and the quieter moments as a husband and father with equal aplomb (note: I have never used that word before), even if you can't believe for a minute that real-life Quaid could toss a ball past your grandmother.  The supporting cast in this film is superb, led by Angus Jones as Morris' 8-year-old son Hunter, Rachel Griffiths as Morris' wife and Brian Cox as Morris' estranged dad.  The score is often rousing and there are magnificent shots of players on diamonds in the middle of the Texas desert.

And, I'll admit it:  I got a little teary-eyed near the end of the film, just like some of the other folks around me did.  When Morris runs out onto the diamond as a major leaguer for the first time, at age 36, your heart just tugs for the guy because you can only try to imagine what it must be like to play out your childhood dreams.  And, since many of my childhood dreams were like other baseball lovers--have the last chance to save your team in game 7 of the World Series--it was great seeing a regular guy get a shot.

"The Rookie" isn't perfect--its running time is too long for a Disney G-rated film, and some of the lines are a little too..."written" to be believable--but for baseball fans or fans of great drama, this one delivers.

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09